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Hunters throughout West Virginia on the hunt for bucks, bear

PARKERSBURG — The traditional buck firearms season and a concurrent bear season open today in West Virginia.

Deer season opens the Monday before Thanksgiving every year, but the later opening this year can result in days with snow on the ground, giving hunters an advantage of spotting and tracking deer, the state Division of Natural Resources said.

“Hunters should enjoy a great deer season in 2019,” said Gary Foster, assistant chief in charge of game management for the DNR. “West Virginia’s deer seasons provide quality outdoor recreation for hunters and, at the same time, boost the state’s economy by hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Hunters may harvest two deer on the same day, but only one of those can be an antlered buck.

The first deer does not have to be legally checked before harvesting the second deer in the same day. However, all deer must be checked and the checking confirmation number recorded by the hunter before hunting during any subsequent day.

Hunters are required to use their permanent DNR identification number to check in their game from their phones at 1-844-WVCHECK, their computers at wvhunt.com or at a hunting and fishing license agent. For a list of license agents, visit wvdnr.gov.

Resident landowners have the privilege of harvesting an extra buck without purchasing the RG stamp if they are hunting on their own property.

Buck firearm hunters in nine counties and portions of two counties are required to take an antlerless deer with a firearm (required Class N permit for residents or Class NN permit for nonresidents) or with a bow or crossbow under archery season regulations, before harvesting a second antlered deer within each of these respective 11 counties. For more information, hunters should consult the 2019-2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations.

Most counties are open to concurrent antlerless deer season hunting during the traditional buck gun season. Class N or Class NN permits to hunt during the antlerless deer season can be purchased at any time.

Antlerless deer firearms season opens Nov. 25 on private land and selected public lands. Hunters should consult the 2019-2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations available at license agents and at wvdnr.gov for specific antlerless deer regulations in each county and wildlife management area.

Small game hunting, including bobcats, is prohibited during the first three days of buck firearms season in all counties having a buck firearms season. Archery and crossbow hunting for antlered and antlerless deer is legal during the buck firearms season subject to all archery and crossbow deer hunting regulations.

The concurrent bear season without dogs will run from Monday to Dec. 7 in 51 counties, Colin Carpenter, black bear project leader for the Division of Natural Resources, said.

All 51 counties that are open to buck firearms hunting will be open to concurrent bear hunting on private and public land during the buck season. Buck firearms season is closed in Logan, McDowell, Mingo and Wyoming counties.

“Counties that will be open for bear hunting during the buck gun season are above their management objective and need additional bears harvested to achieve their goal,” Carpenter said. “Timing is critical when setting bear hunting seasons, and the concurrent buck gun bear season will occur when the maximum number of hunters are in the woods.

Mast conditions in 2019 vary widely based on location, he said. In many areas of the state, abundant red oak group mast will have bears dispersed across the landscape, Carpenter said.

“These special seasons offer a unique opportunity for hunters who may have never bear hunted before to harvest a bear and we hope that they take advantage of this additional chance,” he said.

Bear hunting opportunities continue after the buck firearms season as well. All or parts of 24 counties will be open for bear hunting with or without dogs from Dec. 9-31. In addition, all or parts of 37 counties will be open for bear hunting without dogs from Dec. 9-31.

Successful hunters are required to submit a first premolar tooth from each harvested bear. Information on how to collect and submit a black bear first premolar tooth can be found on page 37 of the 2019-2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary. In addition, hunters who harvest a female black bear are encouraged to save the reproductive tract or all the entrails. The DNR will offer hunters who submit a complete reproductive tract a $20 gift card for their effort.

Hunters with reproductive tracts or entrails should keep them cool or freeze them and contact their nearest district wildlife office or Elkins Operations Center to arrange drop-off. Hunters can get a bear tooth envelope and information on what a complete reproductive tract consists of at all district offices or the Elkins Operations Center. Data obtained from tooth samples and reproductive tracts are used for black bear population monitoring.

Hunters must purchase a bear damage stamp and an appropriate hunting license. Details concerning bear hunting seasons can be found on pages 35-40 of the 2019-2020 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Summary, which is available at DNR offices, license vendors across West Virginia and wvhunt.com.

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